Mongol (Монгол) is a 2007 semi-historical film directed by Sergei Bodrov about the young Genghis Khan. It is planned to be the first in a trilogy about Temüjin's (Genghis Khan's) life. The world premiere took place on July 31, 2007.
The film was an international co-production between companies in Germany, Kazakhstan, Mongolia and Russia. Shooting took place, for the most part, in the People's Republic of China, principally Inner Mongolia (the Mongol autonomous region), and in Kazakhstan. Shooting began in September 2005 and finished in November 2006. The film was nominated for the 2007 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film as a submission from Kazakhstan.
The 9-year-old Temüjin is taken on a trip by his father to select a girl as his future wife. He meets Börte, who says she would like to be chosen, which he does. He promises to return after five years to marry her. Temüjin's father is poisoned on the trip, and dies. As a boy Temüjin passes through starvation, humiliations and even slavery, but later with the help of Börte he overcomes all of his childhood hardships to become one of the greatest conquerors the world has ever known.
In an interview with Zoom In Online in June 2008, co-writer/director Sergei Bodrov admits that it was difficult making the film because of the lack of recorded Mongol history. Mongolians, like the ancient Mycenaeans, recorded and retold history orally. His inspiration for the film came from The Secret History of the Mongols, originally in Mongolian, and translated from Chinese into Russian over 100 years ago which tells of Khan's childhood and marriage to his wife. He admits there was some artistic liberties taken with filling in holes of the story, but he claims that as a writer, he knew the character of Genghis Khan so well that it was easy to imagine what he would have done.
Another particular challenge on the film was shooting such a low-budget epic (only around 20 million) in such desolate areas with a crew that comprised people from over 40 nationalities.
|Tadanobu Asano||Genghis Khan|
|Sun Ben Hou||Monk|
|Sai Xing Ga||Chiledu|
|Odnyam Odsuren||Young Genghis Khan|
|Bayertsetseg Erdenebat||Young Borte|
|Amarbold Tuvshinbayar||Young Jamukha|
|Zhang Jiong||Tangut Garrison Chief|
Mongol was released in the West in June 2008 and received very positive reviews from most film critics. The film review aggregator site Rottentomatoes gave Mongol an 88% "Certified Fresh" approval rating. At Metacritic, the film received a 74 out of 100 rating. Roger Ebert gave the film a rating of three and a half out of four possible stars, observing in his review that Mongol "is all but overwhelming, putting to shame some of the recent historical epics from Hollywood". His dictum was echoed by A.O. Scott of The New York Times who hailed Mongol as "a big, ponderous epic, its beautifully composed landscape shots punctuated by thundering hooves and bloody, slow-motion battle sequences". On the other hand, The Guardian's film critic, Peter Bradshaw, was disappointed by this "huge epic, weighed down with its own ostentatious importance" and its "digitalised Mongol hordes sweeping across plains on horseback". USA Today called "While the historical accuracy may be dodgy, Mongol is a sweeping and quasi-mythical epic... Chinese actor Sun Honglei's performance has been especially singled out by many reviewers, such as the New York Daily News which describes: "Honglei Sun, who, as Jamukha, gives so many neck-cracks, guttural howls and conspiratorial smiles he's like a Chinese Marlon Brando. Christianity Today gave the film a positive review and describes the film as: "Mongol is a Far East Braveheart, charged with the same sense of pseudo-history, movie heroics and inspirational grandeur. However, Boxoffice Magazine panned the film: "Genghis Khan: Devoted romantic, caring father, inspirational leader? Um… this revisionist history of the early life of Ghengis Khan leaves one baffled and unconvinced. The Globe and Mail states: "As an epic action movie, Mongol is satisfying enough. Think Braveheart. Think 300. Just don't think too much.